Essex Police issue warning to drug users after deaths

Health / Wed 14th Jun 2023 at 07:28am

POLICE Officers investigating two deaths which are believed to be drug-related are issuing safety advice to drug users after identifying a harmful synthetic opioid at the scene.

Today (Tuesday 13 June) a man and a woman, both in their 40s, were sadly found deceased at an address in Basildon.

Our officers identified the presence of etonitazene, a synthetic opioid of similar or higher toxicity to fentanyl, at the scene.

This substance may pose a high risk to users and anyone handling it.

Synthetic opioids are occasionally added to illicit drugs like heroin to enhance the potency, but they substantially increase the risk of respiratory arrest in users.

Our officers are working hard to investigate this incident and, crucially, prevent any further deaths.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hughes said:
“I would urge people not to take any illegal substances at any time but particularly not at this time.
“We strongly advise anyone using drugs not to use alone.
“Immediate advice is to avoid using heroin altogether.
“However, if you do choose to take it, we would urge you to follow these steps:
“Ensure there is someone to watch out for you who is not under the influence.
“Take less than you normally would and wait before continuing.
“Have opioid antidote, naloxone, to hand. Current advice is that naloxone should work to counteract the effects of nitazine-type drugs.
“Be ready to call for help – urgent medical intervention may make all the difference.
“Don’t use with other depressants – particularly avoid consuming other depressants such as alcohol, pregabalin, gabapentin or other opiates – these can amplify the risk of respiratory arrest.
“People need to look out for each other and be alert to any signs of an opioid overdose, such as shallow breathing, loss of consciousness and blue lips or fingertips.
“If someone does overdose it’s vital to act fast, call for an ambulance immediately.
“We strongly advise all drug users to get support from local drug services, as being in treatment greatly reduces the risks of harm and overdose.”

Open Road, a charity offering specialist drug recovery support services, can be reached Monday to Friday between 9am and 5.30pm on 0844 499 132.

Find a range of helpful organisations via our Referral Services page at essex.police.uk.

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